This week is SAS Week, an opportunity to celebrate the specialty and specialist doctor workforce (SAS) and raise its profile as a rewarding career and a much valued part of the health and social care workforce.
Dr Karl Solang Balansay was recently named Cygnet Health Care’s SAS Doctor of the Year.
Dr Balansay won his award at the recent Cygnet Annual Psychiatrists Conference and National Awards 2023. The SAS Doctor of the Year award recognises specialist doctors who demonstrate exceptional clinical skills, service development, teaching, research and leadership.
Dr Balansay works at Cygnet Hospital Kewstoke, which provides mental health treatment to men and women, including acute units and psychiatric intensive care units. He was singled out at the awards ceremony for his exemplary clinical skills.
Presenting the award, Dame Clare Gerada, Medical Director of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, said: “Dr Karl was nominated for demonstrating his vast knowledge and empowering the nursing staff in knowledge and skills on how to manage patients.
“He treats all patients with respect, dignity and trust. He has been instrumental in leading the drive for parity of esteem between mental health and physical health and has shown a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring medical students.
“His teaching methods are innovative and inventive and he constantly showcases his dedication to his field. He has a proactive approach to enhancing the skills of the entire team involved in patient care.
“He is an unerring source of support to all of his colleagues and goes above and beyond in his effort to support the service.”
On receiving the award, Dr Balansay said: “I feel highly honoured that Cygnet Health Care and my colleagues have chosen me as the winner of this prestigious award. Without their support, tutelage and guidance I would not have come so far. Winning this award I feel extremely privileged and ecstatic to be recognised for the work and dedication that I have provided. I try every day to make a difference to the lives of those we support and winning this award filled me with pride.
“For me, the best part of my job is seeing those who we have supported feel like they have a future and seeing the success that they have achieved in the community. When past service users’ call to update us on how they are doing, it fills not only myself but my team with joy and happiness.”
On what it means to be an SAS Doctor, Dr Balansay explains: “We have a lot of different responsibilities that we have such as chairing ward rounds, writing tribunals, sitting in tribunals, completing management plans and having discussions with our consultants on how best to manage our service users.
“Training to become an SAS doctor requires you to complete a medical degree and having experience in psychiatry to be able to manage psychiatric cases along with sit-in tribunals. A lot of the consultants are willing to guide doctors and be able to meet the expectations and job role of an SAS doctor.”
Dr Balansay added that, initially, he did not want to get into the field of psychiatry but wanted to go into General Medicine. But he has never looked back.
“My experience has been very positive, with all the support that has been given to me and my fellow colleagues,” he said. “With this support, I started to enjoy the job and decided that I would like to have a career as an SAS Doctor.”
On why it is such a rewarding career, he said: “You can help several people who are struggling with their mental health.
“In this climate where the healthcare system in the UK is struggling, we are able to provide the best care with the support from our consultants. They help to support and push us to be able to improve in our career, knowledge and future development.
“Being an SAS doctor in Cygnet has been very rewarding. The Cygnet medical team enable SAS doctors to have more senior clinical decision-making abilities and empower us to do future training to become consultants.
“They ensure that we are always being pushed to do the best that we can do.”
Cygnet Health Care Group Clinical Director Dr Jon Van Niekerk said: “SAS doctors are the backbone of our services. They are the ones that, with the consultants, provide the medical input for our patients. They are highly valued members of the team.
“As a group of doctors they may have been overlooked and undervalued in the past but it’s a very established role within Cygnet and one that is both well respected and celebrated for the work they do.”